Brokenness & Butterflies

Photo Credit: Kathy King Capehart
Photo Credit: Kathy King Capehart

The butterfly emerged as the symbol of the Women’s Retreat I helped plan last year.  Our theme was brokenness and the butterfly’s life cycle beautifully illustrated that.

Some types of brokenness are like the caterpillar who molts, or sheds its skin and grows from the experience into a larger caterpillar who will at some point be broken again and grow from the experience into yet a larger caterpillar who will at some point be broken again…and again…and again. For a caterpillar, this is called molting. For all of us, this is called life. Experiencing this kind of brokenness is as universal to human beings as it is to that growing little caterpillar – a failed test in school; not getting that promotion at work; hurtful gossip whispered behind your back; feeling excluded from a group that you desperately want to fit into; unreturned romantic feelings…

There comes a point in every caterpillar’s life when it will go through something it has never gone through before! Instead of the brokenness it is used to experiencing in its life, it won’t be able to struggle through it and come out on the other side a bigger, better version of itself. Instead, it will become completely enveloped; it will be penned in, immobilized by something beyond his control, entombed. If you asked the fat little caterpillar if it would choose to be entombed in the chrysalis, it would undoubtedly say ‘No!’ It would prefer to keep to its cycle of manageable brokenness. It was used to it. While it caused it pain, it could handle it and it was bigger and stronger on the other side of it. This new thing, this new brokenness, is confining, painful, scary. Unknown and unsearched for, it is woefully beyond the butterfly’s management and personal control. It feels alone, unable to see outside its own pain.

Many of us have experienced these immobilizing types of brokenness – widowhood; divorce; miscarriage; cancer; long-term unemployment; depression; wayward children. Like the caterpillar inside its chrysalis, we were morphed and changed into something new altogether. We were transformed through that painful process and finally broke free, becoming unshackled from the constraints of life as a mere caterpillar to soar on the heights as a new creation, a beautiful butterfly.

Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory.
They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength.
(1 Corinthians 15:43 NLT)

Perhaps you have felt that type of brokenness, but haven’t yet emerged from your confining chrysalis. You haven’t experienced a breaking free moment and the pain is all you can focus upon right now.

Research verses that speak to your brokenness. Compile a list like the one here. Highlight them in your Bible. Use them as prayer prompts until you are raised in strength like that broken butterfly.

You are loved, beautifully broken friend, and there is hope to be found in Jesus.





My Inner Ogre

My stellar second-born (Abigail-5), our precious third (Jude-2 months), and my fabulous first-born (Job-7) - Easter 1999
My stellar second-born (Abigail-5), our precious third (Jude-2 months), and my fabulous first-born (Job-7) – Easter 1999

I have this incredibly meaningful picture of my first three kids on display in my house. It is a pre-digitalized, unadulterated photograph taken during the olden days of film photography.  I love the composition. The natural lighting is beautiful. The subject matter is – wait for it – picture perfect.

Instead of bringing me joy, however, it brings a healthy dose of sobriety to my view of self. When I look into the smiling faces of my children captured in that photo, I’m taken back to the day I took it. It was Easter. My kids were dressed to impress. We had just celebrated the most important event of our faith. What started as a quick and easy photo op morphed into a  l o n g  and oppressive ordeal that left my tenderhearted young kids in tears. With each blinked eye, each scratched nose, each look in the wrong direction, my inner ogre inched closer to the surface until she exploded in rage. I’m not exaggerating when I confess that I was scary. It is one of my lowest moments as a parent and it is thankfully seared into my memory. I cannot look at that photo without tears and the justified feelings of tremendous remorse, shame, and sorrow.

Sorrow is better than laughter, because sober reflection is good for the heart.  Ecclesiastes 7:3

That photo is a sober reflection of who I am at my core, of my own undeniable state of sinfulness. It reminds me that I fight a battle not only with the enemy of my soul, but with my own sin-stained flesh, as well.

I display it, not for the warm fuzzies it generates, but as a solemn reminder of my inner ogre. It reminds me of who I could (too easily) be without the transforming power of Jesus Christ at work, forever renewing and always refining my heart and mind (Romans 12:1-2).  

Spend some time today in sober reflection.  Ask God to bring to mind the things He wishes you to ponder.